When the NASCAR official waved the checkered flag to end the Ally 400 at Nashville Superspeedway, there were four Hendrick Motorsports drivers inside the top 15. However, the situation changed after officials conducted post-race inspections. The sanctioning body announced that Chase Elliott’s No. 9 Chevrolet Camaro had failed, resulting in his disqualification.
NASCAR released a statement after the race announcing that the No. 9 had five loose lug nuts. As a result, he dropped to a last-place finish and lost out on his accrued points. Elliott’s Stage 1 win went to the runner-up, Chip Ganassi Racing’s Kurt Busch. Teammate Alex Bowman also moved from 15th to 14th after the change.
“It’s unfortunate. The lug nuts on the No. 9 were loose at the end of the race,” said Chad Knaus, vice president of competition for Hendrick Motorsports, per NASCAR. “At the end of the race Chase had a vibration. There were quite a few tire issues through the course of the day so they were hopeful that it was just a cord or something in the tire that was creating the vibration so they chose to run the race out.”
Joe Gibbs Racing’s Martin Truex Jr. also received a penalty after the Ally 400. The No. 19 Toyota Camry had one loose lug nut. NASCAR has not announced a penalty yet, but the expectation is that Truex’s crew chief, James Small, will receive a fine. NASCAR previously docked Small $10,000 for one loose or missing lug nut after the trip to Sonoma Raceway.
The Disqualification Dropped Elliott in the Points Standings
Following the Ally 400 at Nashville Superspeedway, NASCAR published the updated points standings. Elliott sat in third with 629 points, just behind Denny Hamlin (686) and race-winner Kyle Larson (676). However, he did not remain in this position for very long.
NASCAR posted updated standings after disqualifying Elliott due to the penalty. He dropped to fourth in the standings with 592 points. Teammate William Byron, who finished third in the Ally 400, moved up to third overall with 605 points.
As the winner of the race at the Circuit of the Americas, Elliott has a spot secure in the playoffs. He will move on to the next stage of the competition, starting with the Southern 500 at Darlington Raceway on Sunday, Sept. 5. Elliott will continue to defend his 2020 Cup Series championship, but he will have one fewer playoff point after losing his Stage 1 win at Nashville Superspeedway.
Hendrick Motorsports Cars Face Extra Scrutiny Amid Winning Streak
While Elliott’s No. 9 Chevrolet failed inspection, Larson’s passed with no issues. The driver of the No. 5 Chevrolet officially locked up his fourth consecutive win — three points-paying events and the All-Star Race. His win also marked five straight for the organization, which started with Bowman’s win at Dover International Speedway and continued with Elliott’s victory at Circuit of the Americas.
With HMS continuing to showcase speed during the recent winning streak, there are questions about the inspection process. NASCAR’s Senior Vice President of Competition, Scott Miller, addressed these concerns during an appearance on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio. He explained that the teams on a winning streak go through a more rigorous inspection process.
“It does, both externally and internally,” Miller explained on Monday, June 21, per NASCAR. “We certainly want to make sure we’re not missing something in our process, so not that we don’t look hard at every single car that comes through there, but when you start to have a dominant team, definitely the lens gets focused a little bit more on the microscope. You think back to a year ago, or even two years ago, I mean we had a run there where nobody could come close to JGR [Joe Gibbs Racing] and they finished with all cars in the top five many, many times. Same kind of thing, right?
“I don’t know what it is in racing, but it seems to go in cycles with these teams, but really to answer your question: Yes, certainly we look hard at all the cars, but when you start to have a team being very dominant, certainly it’s just natural to make sure that you aren’t missing anything there.”